Softball: Shelton's Kiddie Corp leads way in season opener

From Jackie Jenco's sharp line-drive opposite field single in the first inning on up through freshman pitcher Julia Krijgsman's grand-slam clout in the fourth, Shelton High drove balls to all parts of its home field on Monday afternoon in a 24-2, five-inning mercy rule win over Wilbur Cross. 

You'd think that this was a veteran team of prodigious sluggers. It sure isn't. 

Veteran head coach Joann Desrochers’ started six freshmen, and, if one game is any indication, those Kiddy Corps players will be staying in the starting line up until season's end. 

"We're young, very young," Desrochers said. "I can't remember when I had this many good freshmen. Most of the kids know each other because they've been playing together for years." 

The Gaelettes bashed out 20 hits while scoring five runs in the first; 12 in the second and another seven in the fourth. They were somehow blanked in the third. 

Krijgsman struck out seven, didn't allow a walk and gave up only three hits, all of them coming in the third when the Governors scored both of their runs. 

On offense, Krijgsman had two triples before crushing a ball to deep center in the fourth which hit on the top of the fence and kept on going. She led the team with seven RBIs. 

She certainly received lots of help. 

Freshman outfielder Rachael Kiman drove in five and her twin sister, Amanda, also an outfielder, accounted for four. 

Junior shortstop Jenna Bennett and senior catcher Bryana Heuser chipped in with three RBIs each and freshman third baseman Anna Leone had two. 

Bennett, both Kimans and Krijgsman had three each. 

"We sure hit the ball today," said Krijgsman, who also feels that the team will play well defensively. 

On her home run, she was a little bit surprise. 

"It felt good off the bat and then I watched and saw that it hit right on the top of the fence and went over,” she said. “All I could think was, "wow." 

If Krijgsman looked experienced as well as poised in the pitching circle, it might have something to do with the fact that she's been playing softball since her T-ball days when she was four before moving on to play Little League at nine. You can throw in a few years of travel ball as well. 

"In most cases, I've played against kids who were older than I," she said. "It's done nothing but help me." 

There's a feeling of optimism around this team. The Gaelettes haven't had a winning season since 2012 when they went 14-8 and reached the second round of the Class LL state tournament. 

"I'm very optimistic for the season," Desrochers said. "We've been hitting the ball hard from our first scrimmage (the team had four) right on through. What will be important for this team is how well they mature. What we don't want to do is get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay calm and just play day-by-day." 

Shelton will take on Branford on Wednesday at 4 and then play out of the SCC with a game against Stamford on Friday. Both are home games. 

It turned out to be a tough day for the Governors and head coach Larry Mart. 

"We weren't able to get any scrimmages, so this was the first time that we've been on the field," Mart said. “We have lots of young kids and many of them are playing new positions. They're going to have to get used to this in a hurry. 

“I think we showed our first-game jitters (Cross made seven errors) out there. The kids have to keep their heads up and learn how to compete which was something that they didn't do today." 

Notes: In the Shelton High softball preview in last week's issue, Alexis Resto was inadvertently left out. Resto is a freshman and started at first base in the win over Wilbur Cross.